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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Nov 18, 2009 - Religion - 608 pages
Children have obligations to their parents: the Talmud says "one must honor him in life and one must honor him in death." Beside his father’s grave, a diligent but doubting son begins the mourner’s kaddish and realizes he needs to know more about the prayer issuing from his lips. So begins Leon Wieseltier’s National Jewish Book Award–winning autobiography, Kaddish, the spiritual journal of a man commanded by Jewish law to recite a prayer three times daily for a year and driven, by ardor of inquiry, to explore its origins. Here is one man’s urgent exploration of Jewish liturgy and law, from the 10th-century legend of a wayward ghost to the speculations of medieval scholars on the grief of God to the perplexities of a modern rabbi in the Kovno ghetto. Here too is a mourner’s unmannered response to the questions of fate, freedom, and faith stirred in death’s wake. Lyric, learned, and deeply moving, Wieseltier’s Kaddish is a narrative suffused with love: a son’s embracing the tradition bequeathed to him by his father, a scholar’s savoring they beauty he was taught to uncover, and a writer’s revealing it, proudly, unadorned, to the reader.

Winner of the 1998 National Jewish Book Award

"An astonishing fusion of learning and psychic intensity; its poignance and lucidity should be an authentic benefit to readers, Jewish and gentile." —The New York Times Book Review

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User Review  - suesbooks - LibraryThing

I was disappointed in this book, but also did want to read it in its entirety. It reminded me very much of studying Talmud, but that is more direct. I would also have preferred the author to divulge ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

A fervent and illuminating philosophical journel from the literary editor of the New Republic. Written during the year following the death of his father, when Wieseltier said the traditional prayer of ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Leon Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn in 1952. He is the literary editor of The New Republic. He has published several books, including A Passion for Waiting, Jewish Historiography, and Kaddish, winner of the 1998 National Jewish Book Award. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.

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